University of Rochester Guide

The Ivy Scholars guide to University of Rochester’s culture, admissions, and other essential information for prospective students and their families.


Rochester, NY


Private Research Institution

Acceptance Rate:



12,000 (7,000 undergrads)

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Dates + Deadlines


Schools +Colleges
Core Requirements
Special Programs

Student Life

Campus + Area
Student Orgs + Athletics


Financial Aid

About University of Rochester

Nestled in upstate New York, the University of Rochester has campuses throughout the city, although the main campus is South of downtown. The school is dedicated to the motto “Meliora” an idea of “better” an expectation of always bettering oneself and one’s community. With a very open curriculum, no core classes, and over a hundred areas of concentration, the university offers avenues for exploring all academic fields.

Rochester Statistics

Year Founded


4 Year Graduation Rate:


Gender Distribution

50% / 50%

Acceptance Rate:


Location Type:


Schedule System:


Student / Faculty Ratio:


Average Class Size:



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National Rankings

US News Rankings:

  • #22 Best Value Schools
  • #29 National Universities
  • #75 Best Undergraduate Engineering Programs

Independent Rankings:

  • #5 Best Colleges for Nursing per Niche
  • #18 Best Colleges for Music per Niche
  • #30 Best Colleges for Physics per Niche
  • #39 Best Colleges for Math per Niche
  • #46 Top Research Universities per Forbes
  • #55 National Colleges per The Times of Higher Education
  • #82 National Universities per Forbes

Rochester Admissions

Application Deadlines:
Notifcation Dates:
Early Decision:

Nov. 1

Early Decision


Early Decision II:

Jan. 5

Early Decision II:

Early Feb.

Regular Decision:

Jan. 5

Regular Decision:

Apr. 1


Mar. 15

Acceptance Rates:

  • Early Decision: 51%
  • Early Decision II: 36%
  • Regular Decision: 29%
  • Transfer: 25%

Average Applicant Pool: 21,300

Average Number of Applicants Accepted: 6,500

Average Number Enrolled: 1,550

Application Systems: Common App, Coalition App

Average GPA (unweighted):


SAT Scores: 25th% – 1440, 75th% – 1550

ACT Scores: 25th% – 32, 75th% – 35

*Test mandatory. Writing sections are not required.

Demonstrated Interest:

University of Rochester does consider demonstrated interest.

How to demonstrate interest

Recommendation Letter Policies:

One counselor recommendation and one teacher recommendation are required. If no counselor recommendation is provided, a second teacher recommendation is accepted.

Rochester Essay Prompts:

  • Common App Personal Statement (650 words)
  • The University of Rochester benefactor, entrepreneur, photography pioneer and philanthropist George Eastman said, “The progress of the world depends almost entirely upon education.” With that statement in mind, how will you use your University of Rochester experience to foster positive change in order to make the world, your community and those around you “ever better?” 
  • You may answer one of three ways:
    • 1. Essay Response: Write an analytical or creative response of 250 words or less.
    • 2. Upload up to three works of your own art (e.g. pictures, video, performances, literary) and use the space below to provide a brief explanation as to how the art is tied to making the world, your community and those around you “ever better.”
    • 3. Upload an abstract describing your own related research and use the space below to provide a brief explanation as to how the research is tied to making the world, your community and those around you “ever better.”
  • Combined degree program essays (including Rochester Early Medical Scholars):
    • What relevant experiences or insight have led to your interest in this particular program? Describe how Rochester’s resources: facilities, faculty, peers and research will meet your academic and personal ambitions. Describe how you see yourself contributing to the challenging field you want to enter as a Rochester graduate. (500 words)
    • Are you interested in pursuing research while enrolled at the University of Rochester? If yes, What field/area of study are you interested in researching? (20 word limit)

Rochester Essay Writing Tips

Special Notes:

  • While interviewing is not required, it is strongly recommended, and can increase chances of receiving a merit scholarship. 
  • The combined degree programs have different deadlines than regular admissions. 
  • Students applying to the Eastman School of Music must use the dedicated application program, not the common or coalition apps. Students will also have to submit pre-screen recordings depending on the instrument. Deadlines for Eastman are prior to November 1st for priority, or prior to December 1st at the latest.
  • A supplemental writing sample may be included at the student’s discretion. 
  • The school of nursing may only be applied to by highschoolers as part of the Dual Degree in Nursing (DDN) program. This requires a separate application to the college.


  • The transfer deadline is a priority one; students are accepted on a rolling basis after it passes, but those who apply before are given priority for on-campus housing and financial aid.
  • Students must submit official college transcripts, and one letter of recommendation, which they suggest come from a professor. They also require a letter from a high school guidance counselor.
  • They have a test-flexible policy, which means students should submit scores from tests they feel best show them as a student.

Rochester Admission Strategy

Admissions Criteria: 

The most important factors are high school academic record, extracurriculars, recommendations, course rigor, and personal character. Important, but secondary factors are GPA, interview, standardized test scores, essay, and talent. 

Factors which are considered are legacy status, geographic origin, ethnicity, first-generation status, and demonstrated interest.

Interviews are of important note among the criteria. While many colleges allow for interviews, they are a key component of admissions at Rochester, even if they aren’t mandatory. The school uses the interview to determine where a student’s passions lie, and to answer key questions that often get asked in essays; namely: why us, and what major or field of study are you interested in. Interviews are informal, and should be treated as 20 minute conversations.

Rochester does recruit athletes, but they do not gain a major boost in their admissions chances. 

Like most other top universities, they seek students who are passionate specialists. More, they want students whose passions can be best served by the options at the University of Rochester.

What is Rochester Looking For?

Rochester is an upper tier institution, but not at the very top level. They are competing for students with many schools at a higher tier, and in some ways they accept their status as a backup plan for students who apply to the very top tier schools. Their offers of merit based aid are an effort to attract these students. 

They are still a top school, and want students who are genuinely interested in their programs and offerings. Like most other top universities, they seek students who are passionate specialists. More, they want students whose passions can be best served by the options at the University of Rochester. 

Among admissions criteria, the rigor of the student’s high school classes, and how well they performed in those classes, is most important. As the school has gone test-flexible, and is moving towards entirely test-optional, standardized tests matter far less. That said, if you have done well on standardized tests, the scores can only boost your chances of admission (though high scores can’t overcome low grades). Equally important to this is extracurricular involvement. This does not reflect what activities a student has done, but rather how deeply they involved themselves with activities, and whether they properly demonstrated any passions by doing so.

Rochester Strategy:

Getting good grades in challenging classes and showing a clear passion are the easiest ways to boost your admissions chances for Rochester. While doing well on standardized tests will provide a boost, they are not as important here as they are at many other top schools. 

Students should have and demonstrate a clear passion throughout their application. This makes them more memorable to admissions officers, and helps them stand out. The student should also try to demonstrate why they would be best able to pursue this passion at Rochester, instead of any other school. 

As Rochester does consider demonstrated interest, this is a simple yet effective way to gain a small boost to admissions chances. One of the best ways to demonstrate interest is by applying Early Decision, or Early Decision II if you aren’t ready by the first deadline.

The essay question is important for Rochester. Consider which of the three you are best able to complete; writing is the most straightforward. Uploading art should be done if you had a focus on visual art in high school. If you are far better at the hard sciences, then describing what research you wish to pursue, and how Rochester will help you do it, is your best track.

Finally, you should always partake in an interview when applying to Rochester if possible. Not only is it strongly suggested and highly considered, it helps admissions officers know you better, and the officer conducting the interview will be better able to advocate for you when making admissions decisions. The interview is a place for you to discuss what you are passionate about, and why Rochester is the best venue for you to pursue those passions. 

Here are some important questions to consider before interviewing, which you will likely be asked during the interview:

  • Why Rochester? 
  • What are you most passionate about? 
  • What major or field of study are you considering pursuing?

The interview is an informal conversation, so you should try to put yourself in the best light, but also be genuinely yourself. Trying to only say what you think they want to hear will come off as awkward or forced. What you want to present is the best version of yourself; true to who you are, and excited about who you could become.

Rochester Academics

4 or 5

Required to earn credit for AP tests


Majors Offered


Categories of Majors


Core Requirements:

  • There are no required courses except for the primary writing requirement. Students are expected to select a major, which falls into one of three categories (Humanities, Social Sciences, or Natural Sciences and Engineering). They are then required to take two clusters of three related courses in the other two areas. These clusters may count towards a minor or second major.  
  • Comprehensive Curriculum Information

Courses of Study: 

AP Credit Policies:

  • University of Rochester awards credit for a score of 4 or 5 on most AP exams. Credits may not be used for the core writing course, or any of the clusters. 
  • Comprehensive AP Credit Information

Special Programs

Honors Programs:

Several programs allow students from any major to participate in an interdisciplinary honors program.

Research Availability:

  • 77% of undergraduates participate in research during their enrollment.

Study Abroad: 

Business Options: 

  • Barry Florescue Undergraduate Business Program offers a BA or BS degree in business. The BA degree requires a second major in the college be taken alongside it, the BS degree has more extensive course requirements. 
  • There are 5 tracks available within the business program, depending on student interests.
  • A Business Minor is available to students in Arts and Science or Engineering. Business majors may not also minor in business.
  • Business Advising

Pre-Med Options:

Pre-Law Options:

Computer Science Options: 

Additional Specialty Programs: 

Programs for High Schoolers:

  • Pre-College Programs allow high school students to learn from faculty and graduate students on campus, and contribute to and participate in the campus community over the summer.
  • Medical School Programs these programs allow students with an interest in medical school or medical research to explore their interests guided by current faculty at the Medical School.
  • TRIO Programs are for high school students in the city of Rochester, to help prepare them for college and the application process.

Student Life at Rochester




of students participate in Greek life


undergraduate student organizations

School Motto: Even Better (or Always Better)

Mission and Values:

  • Mission: Learn, Discover, Heal, Create—And Make the World Ever Better.
  • Values: Meliora, Equity, Leadership, Integrity, Openness, Respect, Accountability
  • Additional Information
  • Student Testimonials (Niche, Unigo, Grad Reports)

There are separate dorms for upper and underclassmen are required to live on campus.

Residential Housing System:

Rochester has housing for undergraduates primarily on the River Campus, although Easman has its own housing system. There are separate dorms for upper and underclassmen are required to live on campus. Room styles differ between dorms, with either traditional housing or apartment style offered. Lounges and kitchens also differ between dorms. Housing in fraternities is also available. Special interest housing is available on select floors of residential halls.

Housing Statistics:


of Freshmen live on campus.

Campus & Surrounding Area:  



  • Yellowjacket WeekendThe weekend before classes start, all students are welcomed back to campus. 
  • Dandelion DayPart of Springfest weekend, this is a relaxation period in Spring before finals week, featuring a live concert. 
  • Boar’s Head FeastHoliday feast and party in historical garb.
  • Wilson DayA day of community service and volunteering for students in the broader Rochester community.

Student-Run Organizations: 


Greek Life: 

  • 22% of students participate in Greek life at Rochester, including social, service, and academic organizations.


  • The Eastman school puts on many performances, and the Cinema Group shows movies not yet released on dvd. 
  • Frat parties are a common weekend activity. 
  • Many clubs host activities and events.
  • There are other activities, including bars and other hangouts in downtown Rochester.

Rochester Financials

Yearly Cost of Attendance:

  • Total: $78,042
  • Tuition: $57,188
  • Fees: $1,020
  • Room & Board: $17,208
  • Books: $1,310
  • Personal Expenses: $1,380

Financial Aid:

All students are considered for need-based financial aid. These grants are awarded after personal contributions, work-study, and merit-based scholarships have been determined, and are supplemented by loans. In order to be considered for aid, students need to fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA) before the deadline. The deadline is determined by when the student applied. The majority of students at Rochester receive some form of financial assistance. 

Additional Financial Aid & Student Loan Information


All students are considered for merit-based scholarships during the application process. These are awarded for the student’s first year, and renewed each year if satisfactory performance is maintained. Award amounts range from $2,000-full tuition. Current students may apply for additional scholarships that they qualify for, although this is a smaller and more selective group. Students will only be awarded one merit-based scholarship.

Fun Facts

  • The university was founded by defecting faculty and trustees from Colgate University, who desired to relocate to Rochester. 
  • The first female students were admitted in 1900, as a result of efforts by Susan B. Anthony. 
  • The university has a single division I sports team, their men’s squash team. 
  • Two of the world’s most powerful lasers are located at the Rochester Omega Laser Facility. 
  • Notable Alumni include Sereno Payne, first House Majority Leader, and Francis Bellamy, writer of the original Pledge of Allegiance. 
  • Susan B. Anthony is buried in Mt. Hope Cemetery next to campus.

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